In October 2016 Ansly Damus entered the USA from Mexico and was promptly jailed simply because he wanted asylum. He wanted asylum because one and a half years earlier he had been threatened with death in his home country, Haiti, by a political gang. He left home, his wife and two children, one of whom was an infant, in 2014 because of the threats. He has not seen his family for 7 years and is still awaiting a decision on his asylum case.
Despite missing his family; awaiting a long delayed decision on his asylum petition; and facing the hardship of becoming acclimated to a new culture, Ansly is thriving. He has his own apartment. He has made some new friends. He has been working for almost 2 years at a forge in Bedford. He has been sending money home to his family, all of whom are staying in their houses because of the unrest there. He worries about them and his children, because schools are closed and they are not receiving the education he knows they will need. He sent 1,000 masks home when COVID-19 hit. And, when schools were open, he was paying the tuition for his kids and 4 others who needed an education.
And now his employer, seeing his skill and dedication to work, has encouraged him to apply to Tri-C to learn electrical engineering.
He applied to Tri-C in the early Fall only to find that his legal status as an asylum seeker was not one of the immigration statuses the school accepted automatically. That is, it wasn’t in the computer dropdown menu of acceptable statuses. After Ansly’s lawyer, Elizabeth Ford, wrote an opinion which was provided to the Tri-C Legal Department, Ansly was admitted to school and starts the Spring Semester on January 30, 2022 – in his eighth year away from home.
In the meantime, we have a new administration in Washington and Ansly has applied for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) which is being offered to Haitians in this country because of the present problems in Haiti. These problems have been present for decades and are almost the same as the reason Ansly was forced to leave in 2014.
As for bringing his family here, that is still delayed until asylum is granted. Although there is a chance under this administration there may be a way to bring them here. Ansly is ready to support them and we, AMIS, would love to see Adeline, Neiku and Darrell here! That’s the next goal.